Case Study: Charity Retail Association – the voice for charity retailers

The Charity Retail Association is the voice for charity retailers. Its members, some of the largest and smallest charities in the UK, operate over 9,000 shops managed by 223,000 volunteers raising a staggering £330 million every year.

The charity retail sector is a valued anchor for many high streets, providing an essential resource for some of the most vulnerable people in the country. In doing so, its members are also responsible for recycling half of all clothing and textiles purchased in the UK that would otherwise go to landfill.

“It is one of the retail success stories yet all too often is dismissed or overlooked,” says its CEO Robin Osterley.

The Charity Retail Association acts as a champion to the charity retail sector. It is an advocate for the sector, lobbying local and national government on behalf of charity retailers and builds a powerful body of research and data that charities can use to inform decision making.

Its flagship report is the Quarterly Market Analysis, a benchmark on the financial and trading performance of its members.

When Robin and his team wished to revamp this important members’ resource they turned to Meridian West.

“The report has been driven by our terrific in-house research team led by Olaia Alamos Castresana,” said Robin. “It is one of many research projects we undertake and is complex and time-consuming.

“A key part of the research project is constant data-cleansing and chasing for timely responses. Following changes to our team we wanted to explore alternative and more time and cost-effective ways to carry out this research.”

Meridian West approached the Quarterly Market Analysis with fresh new eyes, looking to focus on the most important data points together with a simplified survey structure.

“Outsourcing has also achieved our cost-reduction objectives as well as maintaining the quality our members demand,” adds Robin.

The Meridian West team, led by Ben Kent and Bertie Heppel have now completed three quarters and the results have been impressive.

The number of survey respondents are up, representing for the first time over 50% of all UK charity shops. The report shared with members has been revamped by the Meridian West team with a greater emphasis on analysis of the data.

It is this data-driven approach, underpinned by the very latest technology that underpins the Meridian West approach.

“The Meridian West team are really lovely to work with,” says Robin. “They are responsive, flexible and have taken time to really understand our business. They are more than number crunchers – their interpretation of the data is what really stands them apart.”

Meridian West top tips

  • Embed quality control into the research: pay close attention to information as you receive it to ensure the best results
  • Use technology to streamline processes: a tool like Qualtrics can automate communication without sacrificing the personal touch, take the pain out of tracking responses, and create a well-structured analysis tool that saves time in the long run
  • Think about the message behind the data: use qualitative lines of questioning to get the context behind the numbers
  • Seek iterative feedback from your audience: make sure periodical reports stay relevant and on-message for those who read them

Meridian West Delivery Team

  • Ben Kent
  • Bertie Heppel